Johny Hendricks really had no option but to move to middleweight, but he looked good in his debut, getting the better of Hector Lombard at UFC Fight Night 105: Lewis vs. Browne on Sunday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The bout was Hendricks’ first at 185 pounds after numerous struggles making the welterweight limit forced him up a weight class. Lomard has undergone bumps of his own, dealing with a suspension due to an anti-doping violation and struggling since he returned a year ago.
Hendricks struggled to close the distance in the opening frame, but showed good head and foot movement, attacking frequently with leg kicks, and staying out of Lombard’s power range. Lombard controlled most of the clinch work in the first round and throughout the fight, but couldn’t find many opportunities to do damage.
RELATED > UFC Fight Night 105: Lewis vs. Browne Live Results and Fight Stats
As the fight wore on, so did Hendricks’ confidence.
While Lombard landed a couple hard shots early in round two, Hendricks weathered the blows and continued to outpace his foe. Hendricks also began landing knees with regularity in the second frame. Even though Lombard caught a couple of the knees flying his way, they at least partially got through, becoming an effective element in Hendricks’ arsenal.
Lombard appeared somewhat baffled in the final round, reverting to one-off techniques that he had trouble landing, while Hendricks kept the pace just a little bit higher, and again sneaking in the occasional knee.
After all was said and done, the judges at cageside awarded Hendricks a unanimous decision, scoring the fight 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.
“Hector Lombard is such a dangerous opponent. Even though you want to attack him, you really can’t because he’s one punch away. Even in the third round, I felt his power,” Hendricks said after the fight, explaining why he never unleashed his own power punches on Lombard. He instead used his speed and movement to his advantage, which is something he struggled with at welterweight due to the significant struggles with his weight cut leaving him depleted.
“At welterweight, I couldn’t move like that in my last three fights, I just couldn’t. All of a sudden, there were thirty-seconds left and I started bouncing around and I was like ‘The only way he’s going to beat me is if he knocks me out.’ I found my weight class. I felt stronger than him, I felt faster than him, and the sky is the limit at 185.”
Follow MMAWeekly.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram